Here’s How I Explained My Generalized Anxiety Disorder to My Latino Family
Telling my Caribbean parents that I couldn’t control my anxiety attacks fell on closed ears. They thought that my attacks — which were usually triggered by arguments with them — were rage outbursts that I was mimicking from what I saw on TV to get their attention.
When I said that I thought my ataque de nervios (Spanish for “nerve attacks” and what Latinos say to describe the symptoms I experienced) meant something was wrong with my brain, they angrily disagreed.
I knew it wasn’t up to me to decondition my family of their century’s worth of preconceived notions about mental illness. Yet I realized, in taking a stance against what I thought we knew about mental health by being honest with them about what I was going through and getting treated for it, that was exactly what I was doing.